Fear and Foliage: The Role of the Forest in the Picture Books of Molly Bang

Pamela Fairfield


Our understanding of the birth of a book often begins with the author’s creation of the narrative text. To this the illustrator adds pictures, enhancing the story’s meaning with visual expression.  But in Bang’s picture books, the classic understanding of illustration as embellishment is upturned; she begins with a picture from which her story unfolds.

Her picture books - The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, Goose, Old Mother Bear  and When Sophie Gets Angry— Really, Really Angry… - provide a sampling of unconventional representations of picture-text relations where the role of the forest becomes a place of accommodation for the conveyance of emotional suspense within the narratives. In this selection of four major works illustrated by Molly Bang, the relationship between text and image does not disintegrate meaning in one entity or the other but each enhances the other’s presence within a unified whole, achieving communality within the experience of storytelling.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680